Earlier this month, The BenRiach launched two new cask finishes: the BenRiach 15 years old Sauternes finish and this BenRiach 18 years old Albariza, which is a peated whisky finished in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks.
Albariza is a white chalky soil, typical for Andalucia but similar to the soils of Champagne or Chablis. Nowadays around 90% of the vineyards in the sherry region are planted on Albariza (although mainly with Palomino grapes, not Pedro Ximénez).
The BenRiach Albariza is distilled from peated malt. It was first matured in American oak casks and then finished in PX casks.
BenRiach 18 yo Albariza (46%, OB 2015, peated – PX finish, 3886 btl.)
Nose: I picked up the sharpness of the peat first, but it mellows as the glass warms up. A very nice, jammy fruitiness as well. Vanilla ice cream with raspberry topping. Dried apricots. Fig syrup and Turkish delights. Big notes of honey. The peatiness is still there but the aromatic sweetness wins.
Mouth: slightly thinner than expected maybe, and more focused on the peaty side now. Yellow raisins and subtle vanilla. Quite some peppery and gingery notes. Leafy notes and peat.
Finish: medium long, drier and spicier, with hints of dark chocolate.
The luscious nose was very good, but the BenRiach Albariza looses a few points on the palate, where it becomes thinner and the oak is bigger than the PX. Around € 95.